Who Desires to Migrate from MENA?

Desire to Migrate Increasing Among MENA Citizens. MENA Citizens have an increased desire to migrate, which can be attributed to increasing political and economic instability throughout the MENA region following the Arab Spring. The Syrian Civil War, the Libyan Revolution, the emergence of ISIS, the civil war in Yemen, lack of economic opportunities for youth have all created increased stability that motivates MENA citizens to migrate. However, political instability and even harsh conditions of war and economic hardship are not necessarily always linked to the desire to migrate. Citizens in the Sudan and Jordan are most likely to report wanting to leave their countries, with almost half indicating a desire to migrate compared to Lebanese and Yemeni citizens, who are about half as likely to report an interest in migration.

Most citizens cite a desire for increased economic opportunities as the reason for wanting to migrate, with youth expressing more interest in migration than older individuals. Higher educated citizens are also more likely to indicate a desire to migrate when compared to those with only a secondary education or less.

Moreover, large numbers of MENA citizens say they would consider leaving their countries without papers. 4 in 10 citizens of Algerians Sudanese and Tunisians say they would leave without proper documentation, compared to relatively fewer Egyptians, Jordanians and Lebanese.

Education, Gender, Age Major factors affecting decision to migrate. Overall young, educated males are the most likely to report a desire to migrate. Half of Sudanese citizens report a desire to migrate, with 42 percent of women and 59 percent of men saying they have considered migrating. In Sudan, Morocco, Jordan and Algeria, half or more of those with higher education report a desire to migrate. In most countries surveyed, young people are 20-30 points more likely to say they wish to migrate. 70 percent of young people in Morocco and 60 percent in Sudan and Jordan say they wish to migrate.

Economics pushing migration. Among those who report a desire to migrate, 60 percent say that they wish to migrate for economic reasons. In Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia, 3 in 4 say they wish to migrate for economic reasons.

Europe, GCC and North America top destinations. 37 percent of those saying they wish to migrate indicate that there top destination is Europe, while 25 percent say the GCC and North America, respectively. Among North Africans, Europe is more popular, while those living in the Levant cite North America at higher rates.

Graphics: BBC,  Source: Arab Barometer, Wave V

Many MENA citizens willing to leave without papers. Roughly 40 percent of citizens in the Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Yemen and Morocco wishing to migrate say they would do so without the required papers, indicating the seriousness of the circumstances which motivate migration in these countries. Youth are much more likely to say they would consider leaving their countries without the necessary documentation, while those above the median income are 15 points more likely in some countries to say they they would consider leaving without papers. This difference is highest in Morocco, Yemen and Sudan. Additionally, men are much more likely to report a willingness to leave without papers. In most countries the difference is between 10 and 20 points – Only 13 percent of women who say they want to migrate in Morocco would do so without papers, but 49 percent of men report a willingness to migrate without papers there.